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 Dec 

Being good for goodness’ sake.

 
 
PRESS RELEASE

Atheist group’s ad campaign kicks off in Iowa

A group that sparked controversy in Des Moines with an advertising campaign that publicized atheist views now has a holiday campaign meant to offer support to nonbelievers.

The latest ads by the group Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers began appearing on 16 buses on Monday. They have the words “Being good for goodness sake” against a blue background with snowflakes.

The ads were designed with the help of the Washington D.C.-based United Coalition for Reason, which has placed ads on buses or billboards in several cities across the country.

Officials with Iowa Atheists and the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority say they haven’t sparked any controversy — yet.

Ads by Iowa Atheists that appeared on 20 buses during the summer generated debate that resulted in a change in advertising policy at the bus agency. DART had put up the ads, then removed them, then reinstalled them amid a free-speech debate in the city of about 200,000 people.

Those signs read: “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”

Elizabeth Presutti, chief development officer for DART, said at the time that the issue was with the use of the word God and that the transit agency had never allowed the word to be used in advertising. That changed under new policies that were adopted following the dispute.

Presutti said that this time, she has not heard of any complaints about Iowa Atheists’ signs.

Lily Kryuchkov, a spokeswoman for the group, said the ads are meant to offer encouragement to atheists.

“We really wanted it to be a holiday campaign, because this was the time of year when everything is centered around religion and people who don’t believe in God are left out, in a way. So we are trying to give a voice and a sense of affirmation and say, ‘We know you are good people and we are here to support you,’” Kryuchkov said.

The wording in the Des Moines campaign is a variation of phrasing used on similar signs in other cities, including Tulsa, Okla., Portland, Ore., Baltimore and Chicago.

In those cities, signs read: “Good without God? Millions are,” or “Good without God? Millions of Americans are.”

In New York, signs read: “A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?”

So far, Kryuchkov said, she has not heard of any complaints about the $1,600 campaign in Des Moines.

“We are trying to find something we can agree on, both religious and nonreligious people alike,” she said. “We want to make the world a better place, and that is something we have in common and we hope it will be non-controversial.”

[December 22, 2009]

 Des Moines, IA 

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